Autumnal glory

Jacky and I did manage to get away for a couple of nights in the gorgeous Peak District. All of this loveliness is only an hour from my house, in fact I live 10 minutes from the start of the area, and the drives there and back were beautiful as well.

It was quite damp but that did not deter us from visiting several reservoirs for a walk in the woods at Langsett and a walk around part of Ladybower.

The trees were amazing and there were such lovely variations in colour at Ladybower.

We saw the spectacular feat of engineering that is the sinkhole, and actually saw one in operation on one of the local reservoirs on the way back.

We also found some little waterfalls which was good as Jacky loves these. We visited some very large ones on our trip to Aysgarth but these were just little ones by the side of the track.

We were only able to stay for a couple of nights due to my self-isolation up until Thursday but it was brilliant to be able to get away and catch up and relax. We stayed at Hardhurst Farm, where we have camped for previous re-enactment events at Peveril Castle. It is a lovely site, right in the centre of the Hope Valley and we really recommend it.

It is a gorgeous area with so much to see and do. Our last visit was to Mam Tor and when we go back again we want to do this walk stretching out onto to the other hills. The views were amazing even in the mist and cloud.

Now it is back to just one more day of leave before teaching starts again and who knows what the new half term will hold. I think there will be much being in the house but at least I am lucky enough to be stocked up with wine, lovely food and lots of wool. I have also just treated myself to two new patterns from Little Cotton Rabbits so will not be bored.

I will be back soon with an update on the knitting. Hope everything is ok with you all, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

New sources of inspiration … as if I need any new projects :-)

I am on leave at the moment which is wonderful. I am also self-isolating since we have had a couple of positive cases at work. That is not quite so wonderful but does mean I have an excuse not to go out at the moment. The weather has been variable anyway so I am very content to stay in and knit and sew. Fingers crossed I will be released back into the wild later this week and hopefully will be taking a little trip away with my sister.

The self – isolation, of not just myself but colleagues does mean that more of our teaching is moving online from next week. We have tried really hard to keep things going on campus but sadly it has got to the stage that this is not possible for some of the classes. On the bright side that means less travelling to work, which saves time and money so I have decided to use that to invest in some more small businesses that I have found via Instagram.

These were suggested to me and as you will see, they could not be more perfect for me. I have made many similar projects over the years, mainly for sale at Yarndale and love working with these shapes and fabrics.

I am not sure when I will start these projects, they may have to be retirement projects as I am still in the middle of all of the knitted animals. However they will not go off and I will be really looking forward to doing them.

They are both creators that use English Paper Piecing, I love working with hexagons, as you know if you have been reading this blog for a while, but look at all of this gorgeousness from Elise and Emilie. The pictures are all from their Pinterest page here.

They have various different versions of EPP flowers, the Starflower which is the top picture, Mayflower in the middle and Dillyflower which is the third one. Don’t you just love that bottom picture with all the colour and joy πŸ™‚ Just the thing to brighten a wet Autumn day.

They are all utterly gorgeous and would make fabulous little gifts when used on needlecases or pincushions. I think the Dillyflowers would make an amazing quilt. The company are based in the USA but supply digital downloads through their Etsy site.

The other one is called Vintage Sewing Box and it was this gorgeous Hexagon Sewing Box that I fell in love with, again available as a digital download from her shop. Pictures from her website.

I really love this Hexagon Sewing Case as well and that is going to be my next purchase.

She has so many wonderful creations on her blog which I am going to spend lots more time reading, and lots of free tutorials here, including these gorgeous little needlecases. She also has a Youtube channel with lots of very helpful tutorials.

They are all definitely people who are my kindred spirits, look at all that gorgeous Liberty fabric! Absolute heaven and I am very happy to be able to support some more small businesses.

I hope that you are having a good week, I had forgotten just how tiring the start of term is, so it is amazing to have a bit of a relax and still be in my pjs at 11am in the morning. I hope that you have a good time ahead, with lots of relaxation planned as well.

Take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Sea, sky and spectacular textiles

We had an amazing time at Bambrugh, the weather was fantastic and the location wonderful with so many stunning views.

My friend Jo, who I have known since Polytechnic in the 1980s, is lucky enough to actually live here. Her partner is a member of the castle staff and they live in the gatehouse. Her photos of the beach during lockdown where she took daily walks were one of the reasons I wanted to revisit the area.

We also met one of the people we know from re-enactment, Dave the moneyer, he has been there all summer with his Viking set up. It was lovely to see him, chat about events and know that at least he has had a good season.

After visiting the castle we had a picnic on the beach and a walk (and paddle) along to the end where there was a wonderful maze like path back through the overgrowth to the other side of the castle.

When we return next year we shall visit some of the beaches further down which give the opportunity for more of these stunning views. Since we returned I have had many photo prompts from the castle Facebook page and these are just some of the amazing photos taken in the area. The final photo is by Jamie Dobson, I don’t have any information on the others.

Inside the Great Hall of the castle was a patchwork hanging that was really fascinating. It consisted of applique as well as a large area of patchwork made of diamonds. The hanging itself was around ten feet high and looked like an immensely time consuming piece of work. Although there was no label with the piece that I could see further research came up with the fact that it was made by Russian prisoners during the Crimean War. I should have guessed that it was a military uniform piece as I have seen similar in quilt exhibitions before.

I would love to know more about the piece, how many people were involved, how long did it take? Who designed the piece and where did they get the inspiration from? I would assume that this was a pattern and techniques they were familiar with from home. That is both the joy and the frustration of seeing such pieces in historic locations. I always want to know more about the people behind the work and little is recorded.

While I was doing the searching for more information I came across this amazing piece of embroidery from a textile artist called Rachel Wright. Photo from Pinterest. 

This was a commissioned piece and you can see more of her work on her Instagram page. She also has some items for sale on her Redbubble site and I particularly love this bag, might just have to treat myself!

We ended the day with another campfire, a game or two of cards, and another amazing sunset. Such simple pleasures but we were so grateful to be able to be there after all the restrictions this year.

We are lucky to live in such a beautiful country. I always travel in the UK a lot but the one advantage (there are so few!) of the current situation is that other people may have had the chance to appreciate our countryside more this year. 

I am hoping that in a couple of weeks I may be able to do some local travel as I have some time off coming up. I have a very large amount of holiday this academic year due to working nearly every Saturday and so having a day off in lieu each week that I need to use. I still have leave carried over from earlier in the summer that I could not use. We have an excellent bus service here so may do some more local exploring. 

Meanwhile there are knitted animals to finish, the mouse is almost done and is looking very cute so far, my first pair of stripey stockings and I love them!

Take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

 

 

Living our best Downton life

Ellen has been re – watching Downton Abbey during lockdown and I watched a few episodes when I was staying with her so we were really pleased to find out that some of the series had been filmed at both Beamish and Alnwick Castle. It was nice to wander round pretending that we were dressed the part and we both thought it would make a fabulous Steampunk event location.

The 1900s town at Beamish was amazing, it just looks so much like a real street, although it is made of elements from lots of different places. There are so many buildings such as the bakers, chemist, bank, garage Masononic hall, sweetshop and a lovely little town park as well as a row of houses. With the bus coming through and a little train station you can see why it is the perfect filming location for period dramas.

I think my favourite was the Co-op, one side was all groceries and the other the haberdashery. A whole shop full of vintage textiles – absolute heaven πŸ™‚ I would love to have the time to be a volunteer there and work behind the counter, just look at all this wonderful stuff!

You can just see the quilt wadding and many lovely textiles for dressmaking as well as so many sewing notions. I really loved it.

After a stop in the town park for a rest we got on the bus and went to the mining village which was equally wonderful. I can’t wait to go back and hopefully we will be able to go inside the houses, there were so many amazing textiles, such as this beautiful crazy quilt and a really unusual embroidered waistcoat.

Our visit to Alnwick was on a very grey day so my pictures do not do justice to the beautiful setting.

We were lucky enough to be able to get tickets for the State Rooms and although no photos were allowed I found these on Google. The ceilings were amazing and this red and gold room was my favourite.

There was also a really good film about the shooting of the Downton Abbey Christmas special there and it was fabulous to see the actual rooms after watching that. I found some lovely pictures of the cast at the castle as well on Google.

Things are very busy at work, so there has been little crafting done. I am still putting together knitted animals and have finished another camper van embroidery so will share that with you soon. I am still teaching on campus so we are all keeping our fingers crossed for that to continue. It still seems very strange and everything is a bit tense as we are constantly expecting things to change. Thank goodness for the comfort of wool and thread to keep me sane πŸ™‚

I hope that you are all ok and not too stressed, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Back in time, or not…

Our first visit on our Northumbrian trip was to Beamish. To say we enjoyed it would be an understatement. For two heritage enthusiasts, with a particular love for social history it was an amazing day out, and we can’t wait to go back.

Things were obviously a little restricted, the trams were not running, but the buses were and we had a trip on this gorgeous vehicle.

Some of the rooms were closed off, as were some of the smaller properties and there were less interpretive staff working but that just gives us all the more incentive to return next year. We loved the vintage style mask signs.

Our tickets are valid for a year and it is such a large place we didn’t manage all of it in one day anyway. I have split the photos into two posts as I took so many.

Our first location was the 1820s hall which had a beautiful formal garden. I think it is one of the original buildings at the location, many others have been relocated or are being built as replicas. It was a really hot and sunny day so we got to see the place in the sunshine which was wonderful.

The second location was one of my favourites, a 1950s miners’ welfare hall. It was complete with all of the things that you would expect, and some that were very unexpected and really interesting. I think it was one of my favourites due to all of the textiles, and the lovely interpreter we chatted to.

I had spotted the knitted version of Muffin the Mule as we went up to the table. I remember my Grandad had a metal version of this puppet and I watched some of the episodes when I was younger.

We were also fascinated by the knitted baby in the womb which was used by midwives in the 1950s to explain birth, and particularly which way the baby was lying. I do remember having a knitted womb at my antenatal classes 30 years ago which the midwives used to explain the birth process.

As well as the wonderful textiles with crochet, embroidered tablecloths and hexagon patchwork there were lots of information signs not too dissimilar from those we are seeing today.

Diptheria was the issue then, with posters warning of the dangers of coughing and the need to vaccinate against the disease. Very relevant to the situation today and a reminder of how public health is vital despite the differences in society now. We also loved this poster stressing the importance of taking holidays to keep you healthy for work, we couldn’t agree more!

The attention to detail in the building was brilliant, they had even asked the Formica company to make them some of a 1950s pattern for their tables and had the advert outside the building. I am sure I remember this from my childhood.

The 1950s area is one that is being expanded so I am really looking forward to seeing more of it on our next visit.

We have had the first week of term, met the new Year 1s and are keeping everything crossed for teaching being able to be on campus still. It was very difficult getting to know a group of students all sat in rows with masks but we did at least have a Zoom tutorial later in the week so we could see their faces.

It was upsetting for all of us as normally this week would be full of fun and creative things that we were doing with them. However, we are adapting. I always used to say to my teacher trainees that the key to being successful is to be flexible and adaptable and that will be even more important this year.

We are under enhanced restrictions in my area again but the sun is shining so I have been able to go for walks at least. I have finally finished the very difficult jigsaw and am on with a new one. I am so thankful again for my lovely home, and secure job as we enter another period of uncertainty.

I hope that you are all ok and coping with everything. I am also so grateful for my crafting as it gives such respite from all of the anxious bits of life. I am working on a new camper van embroidery alongside the knitting and enjoying some new series on Netflix, one set in space, Away, which has been excellent. However scary life is the the moment at least I am not trying to get to Mars πŸ˜‰

Take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

In love with anything tiny

I don’t know what it is about my brain but I am officially addicted to anything small. Be it patchwork, knitting, cross stitch or dressmaking, everything is better when it is tiny.

Over the years I have made so many little knitted animals, with equally small clothes, tiny patchwork hexagons, cross stitch ornaments that I need a magnifier to sew, and dresses for Barbie where most of the pieces are no bigger than my hand.

Although I have made larger things there is something wonderful about the teeny tinyness of it all. Maybe it is the sense of completion, it does not take months to do something. Maybe it is to do with my desire to swap projects on a regular basis.

The same passion for tiny has now been confirmed by our trip away in my first tiny accommodation. I have been following lots of vlogs for years about tiny house living and was really excited to see what staying in the shepherd’s hut would be like. I know it was only for a couple of days but I could honestly imagine myself living in something like that full time. It was wonderful!

These pictures are from the Air bnb listing as it looked a lot more cluttered once we had arrived. As we were staying for just 2 nights we didn’t unpack. If I was living in something that small full time I would need a little more storage (for fabric of course πŸ™‚ ) , but I loved being in a space that was probably not even as big as my kitchen.

I have the sense all the time now that this house is too big, it is too full of ‘stuff’, even though it is only a small 3 bed terrace and I can’t wait to properly declutter and downsize in my move to Spain.

The outside space was so lovely as well, these are pictures that I took on the first evening we were there.

It was a perfect view, overlooking the field which was being ploughed the next morning and with a view of the sea and some amazing sunsets.

The firepit was very much appreciated, it is the first time we have sat around a fire this year and I have so missed it. It truly was an idyllic place to stay and would thoroughly recommend it.

Since we got back I have been compiling a list of all my other favourite little Air bnbs to visit, I have about 20 so far. I may not get to all of them but I can dream! We have booked a wonderful cabin overlooking the beach for next May, in Northumberland again as we had such a good time and want to explore the area more.

I will post more about the rest of the trip soon, it was better than we had hoped as the weather was really good and we were able to visit lots of lovely places.

Meanwhile it is back to work with our new first years starting on Monday. We are very uncertain as to what will happen as we are under further restrictions in our area as of next week but we will keep our fingers crossed that we can carry on teaching on campus.

I hope that things are not too difficult where you are, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Very cute knitting!

I have not had much time to craft in the last couple of weeks as term has started and I have been teaching, socially distanced, in classrooms that look like a GCSE exam room, and from behind a visor. A bit strange but it is lovely to be back in the classroom πŸ™‚

I have made some progress over the last couple of months on knitting clothes for the Little Cotton Rabbits animals and spent some time this week blocking them. They are so cute and I am loving the designs.

Julie has worked really hard on all sorts of new patterns and additions to existing patterns so we now have so many options for gorgeous wardrobes for our creations.

I have now knitted three pairs of dungarees, the earlier blue ones for Egbert the elephant, who has gone to his new home now with my friend from work’s grandson. The green ones will be for a little mouse and the navy ones for another friend’s grandchild. I just love the cute little pockets!

These are my first pair of rompers, adapted from Julie’s pattern to have more of a frill on the bottom. These will be paired with a little cardigan and I am also in the middle of a very cute backpack for this set.

One of the other new patterns I have bought has been for some textured dresses and I have just finished my first one, again with the sundress option for the top. I will make a cardigan to go with this as well.

I was very excited last week as I went in to town for the first time in 6 months and my local habdashery shop has survived the lockdown. I am so pleased for them, and for me so celebrated by buying some more gorgeous wool for future outfits.

I am also very excited today as tomorrow we are going to Nothumberland for a few days. We have booked a very cute shepherds’ hut and Ellen and I will be visiting lots of castles and Beamish open air museum. All places we have not been before so I am really looking forward to that.

This picture is from the Air BnB listing, how cute is this! We are planning to stay in lots more cute places over the next few years as we both love tiny houses and want to try lots out.

I will be back at the end of the week as I am teaching on Saturday again and next Monday the full-time students start with us. Fingers crossed that we can stay teaching on campus, such uncertain times for all of us but I do hope that they enjoy their time with us. I really feel for them after all that they have been through this year and although I will not be teaching any of the Year 1s this year I am looking forward to spending time settling them in.

I hope that you have a good week ahead, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

What the well-dressed Steampunks are wearing this season

The Kelham event showed just how wonderfully creative Steampunks are when it comes to their masks as well as their costumes, and there were some beautiful and very unusual masks on display. Even though we did not have to wear them all the time, just in the toilets, bar and at stalls, most people kept them on all day.

I wore mine all the time, hopefully this is the only time I will have to wear it but was very pleased how well it went with the outfit and I even got featured on the event Facebook page for having a lovely mask which was very nice πŸ™‚

As usual there were some stunning outfits, lots of bright colours and detailed work having gone into all of them.

I particularly loved this sea themed outfit, Ellen and I are going for this type of theme for next year at Whitby.

It was nice to meet up with people from previous events, these in the above pictures are the people we met at Whitby Abbey.

We also met this lovely lady again,we first met her at Clumber during the WW2 event and then at Lincoln. She had a gorgeous bee hat and sunflower bustle.

I was very pleased with how my whole outfit came together, I wore the same purple skirt and top as at previous events .

I was also very pleased to find this fabulous little purple handbag the day before when we were charity shop browsing in Retford. How cute is this!

Ellen had a wonderful ringmaster outfit, she used the jacket she made for Steampunks in Space a couple of years ago, and a skirt adapted from a charity shop find.

The hat decoration was part of the same set of tunic fabric that I used from Bombay Stores.

This is one of my favourite pictures of her, even with the mask you can see her smiling!

James and Kerry looked equally lovely, James had a new waistcoat for the event, with matching mask. His Mum made these and the waistcoat is stunning, such beautiful work.

The hall itself is amazing, we are hoping to go to other events there. We didn’t get chance to go inside but had a lovely picnic just outside, using the new basket.

A wonderful chance to have fun and here’s to many more normal weekends in the future.

I hope that you have enjoyed the costumes, I will be back later in the week with an update on the knitting progress. Meanwhile, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

The ‘Glories of Bombay’ Steampunk outfit

It was wonderful to be at an actual event last weekend, although the weather was not that good we had a great time and I will share more pictures of all the wonderful costumes in my next post.

I wanted to do a separate post all about the jacket and hat though as I am very pleased with how they turned out. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, based on the wonderful fabric from Bombay Stores that I bought at Christmas, but it turned out much better than expected.

I used the pattern that I had previously used for Amanda’s wedding jacket but made it much shorter without the points and did not add buttons, partly as I do not like doing buttonholes, but I think it suited the outfit to have it open.

The tassels were from stash, cut from an old Christmas table runner and there is a hook and eye behind them. I also added a brooch from stash when I wore it.

The sleeves were double layered with the organza over the satin. This was partly a practical solution to the fact that as the satin was from the bargain section and only Β£1.25 a metre it was quite creased. I think it worked really well though and really makes the jacket.

All of the motifs were cut from the tunic set and stitched on, as was the band at the bottom.

The hat had the same organza used for the removable band and some more motifs and beautiful jewels. This was all pinned in place.

I also made a matching mask, I will include pictures of that in the next post, there were lots of wonderful creative masks made by my fellow steampunkers and it was wonderful to see that we could have an event even with all the current restrictions. Huge thanks to all at the Ministry of Steampunk for arranging it.

I got back from Ellen’s on Tuesday and have been doing a little bit of knitting and sewing, Ellen has very kindly made me a wrist pincushion which is something that has been on my to do list for ages. It co-ordinates so well with all my other sewing accessories.

I have been making some more masks as there was great excitement this week as I actually went back into work! I went in on Thursday and had my first teaching session yesterday which went well. A little strange with me wearing a visor, no handouts and all the of the students sat on individual tables 2 metres apart but it was good to be actually back in the classroom with the students. I have made a few masks but need a week’s supply and a range of colours so that I can co-ordinate with outfits πŸ™‚

I have a quiet week ahead so hopefully I will be able to make good progress on the knitted animals. I have finished the romper, a dress and another pair of dungarees so will share those with you soon.

I hope you have a good week ahead, take care, stay safe and thanks for visting.

Wonderful waterfalls

My second holiday was a trip away with my sister in her fabulous camper van Eva, named after my Nana who lived to be 100 and loved travel.She and my grandad went abroad twice aΒ  year, every year from the 1970s which was very unusual for families like ours at that time.Last October we went to the Dales near Settle and had a fab time.We were going to go to Wales but there were still a lot of restrictions on sites there so we ended up back in the Dales again.

My sister loves waterfalls so I found a great site at one of the most famous waterfalls in the Dales, at Asysgarth. The site is at the back of the Aysgarth Falls Hotel in a stunning location with beautiful views and a very nice beer garden to enjoy them in. It is a very small site with only 10 van pitches but beautifully kept with great facilities.

Dales waterfalls 46

Dales waterfalls 45

The shower and toilet block is these little green garden sheds and there are two sinks for washing up.

Dales waterfalls 44

Ellen joined us for one night’s camping and she was in the very well – kept tent field which was just below ours.

Dales waterfalls 47

We met some friendly campers as well who came and admired the van. It is so convenient, I will always love camping but it is so nice to drive up and everything is there for you, and no wet tents to dry off when you get home!

We went cross country on the drive there which was fun, large camper van on small country lanes πŸ™‚ Luckily my sister is a very experienced driver. She wanted to stop at some waterfalls she had found on the map so we had a picnic at a cute spot in the middle of Wharfedale on the way.

Dales waterfalls 5

We started on the second day with a visit to Hardraw Force, which is the largest single drop waterfall in England. It was a beautiful setting and after seeing the waterfall from the bottom of the gorge we climbed up to the top to look down on it which was amazing.

Dales waterfalls 22

Dales waterfalls 23

The power of the water as it thundered into the pool was amazing and I could have stayed watching it for hours. At the top there were these huge rocks in the river leading to the waterfall and beautiful views across the valley.

Dales waterfalls 26

We stopped at Hawes on the way back for a look round and to purchase some Wensleydale cheese as we were staying in Wensleydale. There were some beautiful little waterfalls in the middle of the village as well and very cute cottages.

Dales waterfalls 29

Our second day was spent at the Aysgarth Falls and also going on a 2 mile walk (there and back) to another waterfall, Cauldron Falls, which we spotted on the map in the little village of West Burton.

We have been to Aysgarth many years ago and it is still an amazing place, the sheer power of the water is stunning.My sister got a lot nearer than I did as last year I fell over near the waterfall we were visiting and badly bruised my hip so stayed safe this time.

Dales waterfalls 36

Dales waterfalls 34

It was a very hot day and after an ice cream and a little sit down the walk to West Burton seemed a very long way. It was a very pretty village though and thankfully the village pub was open so we were able to have a cold pint of cider to keep us going for the way back to the pub at the campsite.

Dales waterfalls 38

Dales waterfalls 37

The Cauldron Falls were amazing, we had expected only a little waterfall but instead we got this.It was a really nice walk along the river as well.

Dales waterfalls 41

We also had a bbq, only the second of the year and had lots of time to just sit and chill and catch up with my sister. It was a fantastic relaxing and fun filled 4 days and I can’t wait to buy my own camper van next year. I loved taking pictures of all of the different textures of trees, water and rocks.

The journey back was in a very warm 32 degrees, just in time to get me acclimatised before I flew to Spain the following day. I didn’t take any pictures while in Spain as it was a very low key time. I did go swimming almost every day, and had some trips to the beach and a couple of meals out. Most of the time was spent sitting reading, knitting and generally chilling (albeit in 34 degrees!).

I have been so lucky to be able to get away and feel very, very happy to have been able to see my Mum and my aunt. There was a time in April when I thought I was never going to be able to visit Spain again and it was so brilliant to be able to be there with them.

The new Steampunk outfit is going well and I have completed the hat. I will be able to give you some updates in the next post and fingers crossed by Monday I will have most of it completed.

Although I still love the colour, the satin fabric has been quite tricky to work with. Aside from my ever preset fitting issues (why do I always cut out things so large?), it is a very slippery fabric to work with and shows every pin mark. Hopefully the overall impression will be so stunning people won’t notice the tiny holes in some of the pieces, note to self, next time don’t ever use a pin in the centre of the fabric πŸ˜‰

I hope that you have all had a nice week, work has been fine as luckily we are not too badly affected by all the A level trauma in the department I work in. I feel so sorry for all of the students, their teachers, and the university staff who have had to try and deal with this. My heart goes out to all of the young people in what has been such an awful year for them without all this.

Take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting, liking and commenting, it is lovely to get such nice feedback from you all.